Rule utilitarianism


Rule utilitarianism

Rule utilitarianism is a form of utilitarianism which states that moral actions are those which conform to the rules which lead to the greatest good, or that "the rightness or wrongness of a particular action is a function of the correctness of the rule of which it is an instance."cite book |last=Garner |first=Richard T. |coauthors=Bernard Rosen |title=Moral Philosophy: A Systematic Introduction to Normative Ethics and Meta-ethics |year=1967 |publisher=Macmillan |location=New York |pages=70 |isbn=0023405805] For rule utilitarians, the correctness of a rule is determined by the amount of good it brings about when followed. In contrast, act utilitarians judge actions in terms of the goodness of their consequences without reference to rules of action. Another variation of rule utilitarianism stresses the greater utility of following a given rule in general, arguing that the practice of following some rule in all instances (always stopping at red lights, for example) will have better consequences overall than allowing exceptions to be made in individual instances, even if better consequences can be demonstrated in those instances.

In his 1861 book "Utilitarianism", John Stuart Mill defends the concept of rights in terms of utility: "To have a right, then, is, I conceive, to have something which society ought to defend me in the possession of. If the objector goes on to ask, why it ought? I can give him no other reason than general utility."cite book |last=Mill |first=John Stuart |authorlink=John Stuart Mill |title=Utilitarianism |year=1861 ] Whether Mill was a rule utilitarian is a matter of controversy;cite web |url=http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/consequentialism-rule/ |title=Rule Consequentialism |accessdate=2007-03-11 |date=2003-12-31 |publisher=Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ] he also argues that it is sometimes right to violate general ethical rules:

… justice is a name for certain moral requirements, which, regarded collectively, stand higher in the scale of social utility, and are therefore of more paramount obligation, than any others; though particular cases may occur in which some other social duty is so important, as to overrule any one of the general maxims of justice. Thus, to save a life, it may not only be allowable, but a duty, to steal, or take by force, the necessary food or medicine, or to kidnap, and compel to officiate, the only qualified medical practitioner.

ee also

*Act utilitarianism
*Two-level utilitarianism
*Preference utilitarianism
*John Stuart Mill
*Peter Singer
*Richard Brandt
*Rule egoism

References

Further reading

*cite speech
last = Smart
first = J. J. C
authorlink = J. J. C. Smart
title = Extreme and Restricted Utilitarianism
publisher =
date = October 1955
location = The Victorian Branch of the Australasian Association of Psychology and Philosophy


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • rule utilitarianism — See utilitarianism …   Philosophy dictionary

  • Rule egoism — is the doctrine under which an individual evaluates the optimal set of rules according to whether conformity to those rules bring the most benefit to himself. [Kagan, Shelly. 1998. Normative Ethics. Westview Press. p. 199] Referencesee alsoRule… …   Wikipedia

  • Utilitarianism — This article discusses utilitarian ethical theory. For a discussion of John Stuart Mill s book Utilitarianism, see Utilitarianism (book). For the architectural theory, see Utilitarianism (architecture) Part of a series on …   Wikipedia

  • utilitarianism — /yooh til i tair ee euh niz euhm/, n. the ethical doctrine that virtue is based on utility, and that conduct should be directed toward promoting the greatest happiness of the greatest number of persons. [1820 30; UTILITARIAN + ISM] * * * Ethical… …   Universalium

  • Two-level utilitarianism — is a utilitarian theory of ethics developed by R. M. Hare.cite book |last=McNaughton |first=David A. |title=Moral Vision |year=1988 |publisher=Blackwell Publishing |pages=177 |isbn=0631159452] According to the theory, a person s moral decisions… …   Wikipedia

  • Act utilitarianism — is a utilitarian theory of ethics which states that the morally right action is the one which produces the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people. Act utilitarianism is opposed to rule utilitarianism, which states that the …   Wikipedia

  • Preference utilitarianism — is quite probably the most popular form of utilitarianism in contemporary philosophy. In the same way as other utilitarian theorists, preference utilitarians define a morally right action as that which produces the most favourable consequences… …   Wikipedia

  • golden rule — Synonyms and related words: Christian ethics, Stoicism, a priori truth, altruistic ethics, aretaics, axiom, brocard, canon, casuistry, categorical imperative, code, commandment, comparative ethics, convention, deontology, dictate, dictum,… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • ethics — /eth iks/, n.pl. 1. (used with a sing. or pl. v.) a system of moral principles: the ethics of a culture. 2. the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.: medical ethics;… …   Universalium

  • Consequentialism — is the class of normative ethical theories holding that the consequences of one s conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness of that conduct. Thus, from a consequentialist standpoint, a morally right act (or omission) is… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.